Extreme hunger on the rise in Yemen, one year from end of ceasefire: Oxfam
Over a third of the Yemeni population is facing extreme hunger, with child malnutrition rates amongst the highest in the world. One year after the temporary peace agreement’s expiration, Oxfam calls on all sides of the conflict to strive for a sustainable and inclusive peace and for cuts to the international aid effort to be reversed.
Since war broke out in 2015, Yemen has suffered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Over 21 million people — two-thirds of the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance. The conflict has resulted in thousands of casualties, forced over four million Yemenis to flee their homes, and led to a collapse of the economy.
A temporary peace was brokered in April 2022, bringing a glimmer of hope to millions of Yemenis, a 60 per cent reduction in casualties, and easier access to essential services. But the ceasefire expired in October 2022, and while an uneasy, de facto peace has largely held, political uncertainty has hampered the country’s recovery.
The Yemeni economy – in both the north and the south – is in dire straits. High levels of inflation have compounded rounds of currency depreciation. Food prices have more than doubled, and many ordinary Yemenis can no longer afford to buy enough food.
Abdulwasea Mohammed, Oxfam in Yemen Advocacy, campaigns and media manager, said:
“The people of Yemen have endured over eight years of war, and our women and children have suffered the most. 8.5 million children need humanitarian assistance. They face the daily threat of food shortages, diseases, displacement, and an acute lack of access to basic social services.”
“It should be a source of great shame to our leaders and to the international community,” says Mohammed, “that we have children suffering because of what is an entirely man-made crisis.”
Popular protests have spread across the country in recent months as Yemenis have rallied against deteriorating living conditions. Many have marched under the banner: “bread, water, and power.” They have been routinely met with violence by the authorities.
Despite the need scale, Yemen’s humanitarian effort is severely underfunded. The health response is currently only seven per cent funded, while the education response is just two per cent funded. And the picture is set to get worse. The number of people facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger is forecast to increase by 20 per cent. There are 2.2 million children under the age of five in need of treatment for acute malnutrition — one of the highest in the world. A recent survey showed that almost one-third of families have gaps in their diets and hardly ever consume food like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products, or meat.
One shop owner in Aden told Oxfam how his customers are no longer able to afford the basics:
“I’ve been here for 50 years, and I know the people and how many children are in each home. It’s heartbreaking to see fathers buying a small bag of rice for a family of seven or only four loaves of bread a day. Only the little ones get to eat three meals a day.”
Yemen has also suffered the effects of climate change, with periods of drought and heavy rains destroying crops, homes, and livelihoods. As the rainy season continues to test an infrastructure ill-equipped to cope with floods, more climate shocks look likely.
Oxfam calls on all sides of the conflict and the international community to renew their efforts to deliver sustainable, inclusive peace and rebuild the country. Payment of salaries, reopening vital roads, and a plan for rebuilding the economy must be central to any deal.
Abdulwasea Mohammed said:
“Recent talks between the warring parties are welcomed, but what we need now is a redoubling of efforts and an inclusive and sustainable end to the conflict. Only then will Yemenis be able to rebuild their lives and hope for a better tomorrow.”
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Notes to editors
- Humanitarian Needs Overview: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-humanitarian-needs-overview-2023-december-2022-enar
- Humanitarian Response Funding: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-humanitarian-response-snapshot-april-2023
- The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) figures for Yemen: https://www.ipcinfo.org/ipc-country-analysis/details-map/en/c/1156365/
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